What Is Mackerel Good For?

Mackerels are considered some of the most nutritious fishes. They’re an excellent source of protein, vitamins B2, B3, B6, and B12, and vitamin D. Their flesh is also full of minerals like copper, selenium, and iodine. Some of these fishes also contain good amounts of iron and vitamin B1.

2) Mackerel Contains Significant Amounts of Vitamin B12

Unfortunately, vitamin B12 deficiency affects an estimated 6% of the UK and USA’s population, and this figure increases to 20% in the over-60 age group (8).

Vitamin B12 is one of the most crucial nutrients for our health, and a deficiency can potentially cause anemia and also damage our nervous system (9, 10).

For these reasons, regardless of dietary preference, it is imperative to guarantee a sufficient intake of the vitamin.

Fortunately, mackerel contains a significant amount of this essential vitamin, and a cooked mackerel fillet provides 279% of the RDI for B12 (11).

Vitamin B12 is essential for our immune and nervous systems, and it also plays a role in producing DNA (12, 13).

Mackerel is an excellent source of dietary protein, and a regular fillet of mackerel offers 20.8 grams of protein (14).

Additionally, mackerel is a complete source of protein, which means the fish includes sufficient quantities of all nine essential amino acids (15).

As a relatively fatty fish, mackerel does not provide as much protein as leaner fish options like cod and haddock.

But eating mackerel is a great way to get high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Nevertheless, leaner fish like haddock might be worth considering if protein density is a goal since mackerel, an oily fish, contains more calories than other leaner protein options.

4) Mackerel Contains Very Low Levels of Mercury

Despite the fact that seafood is generally healthy and beneficial for our bodies, one drawback is that it may contain mercury contamination.

For instance, according to health authorities, we should only occasionally eat certain fish because of the amount of mercury it contains.

The below, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, shows that we should only eat albacore tuna and swordfish on rare occasions.

But you’ll see that one of the fish in the “least mercury” section is Atlantic mackerel.

It’s crucial to remember that this is speaking of Atlantic mackerel.

Other fish species, like Spanish and King mackerel, have relatively high mercury concentrations.

For reference, the table below shows the mean mercury contamination of some common species of fish (16);

Fish Species Mean Mercury Contamination (PPM)
Cod 0.111
Herring 0.078
Mackerel (Atlantic) 0.05
Sardines 0.013
Tuna (Albacore) 0.358

Mackerel has the second-lowest mercury content of these popular fish, behind sardines.

5) An Excellent Source of Selenium

Another health benefit of mackerel is that just one small fillet provides 71% of the recommended dietary intake for selenium (3).

Selenium is an essential mineral that has numerous important functions in our body, and these include (17);

  • Antioxidant function: selenoenzymes and selenoproteins may help to attenuate oxidative stress.
  • Plays a key role in the health of our immune system.
  • DNA production.
  • Regulates thyroid hormones and overall thyroid health.
  • Furthermore, a systematic review of randomized controlled trials suggests that higher selenium intake may lower several risk factors for cardiovascular disease by (18);

  • Decreasing markers of inflammation
  • Increasing levels of glutathione, known as ‘the body’s master antioxidant’
  • Interestingly, selenium is also known to bind mercury. While this topic is not currently fully understood, it may potentially make the minimal mercury levels in mackerel less of an issue.

    Omega-3 and selenium, as mentioned earlier, may both help to improve cardiovascular health.

    However, mackerel is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals that are associated with better heart health, such as magnesium, potassium, and zinc (19, 20, 21).

    Additionally, specific studies have examined the effect of fatty fish, such as mackerel, on risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD);

  • Fatty fish consumption improves CVD risk by lowering inflammation and improving vascular function (22).
  • In a meta-analysis of existing studies on fish consumption, each incremental increase of 20 grams of fish daily was associated with a 7% reduction in cardiovascular mortality. Although we cannot prove causation from this, it does support the known benefits of consuming fish (23).
  • In a randomized controlled trial, consuming 750 grams of fatty fish per week, such as mackerel, led to lower blood-glucose responses to meals. Additionally, blood levels of omega-3 increased in the 68 trial participants. In contrast, 750 grams of lean fish did not have these effects (24).
  • FAQ

    Is eating canned mackerel good for you?

    Mackerel is high in protein and has fewer calories than chicken or beef and has been linked to lowering blood pressure in men. Additionally, it contains more omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than almost any other common fish. It is the perfect healthy food because there is little chance of overfishing and little mercury in it.

    Which is healthier salmon or mackerel?

    Both salmon and mackerel are sources of vitamin D, though salmon has a higher concentration. Salmon is therefore a better option from a nutritional standpoint for these essential nutrients. Salmon also typically has lower levels of heavy metal contaminants than some species of mackerel, which should be avoided due to their high mercury content.

    Is mackerel good for weight loss?

    According to new research, mackerel may aid in weight loss because it makes us feel full. These include sirloin steak, chicken, plums and apricots. The foods also contain a lot of protein, which is known to keep people from feeling hungry for longer.

    Which is healthier tuna or mackerel?

    Compared to mackerel, tuna has 12 times as much vitamin B1 and 15 times as much vitamin A. It also has more Vitamin B6, Vitamin B2, and B3. In terms of food sources of vitamins B3 and A, tuna ranks among the top 12%. One serving of tuna provides half of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin B3.

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